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How Viral Content Is Taking Over Mainstream Media

Content that originally went viral online is taking over the mainstream media world, as the digital generations use their likes and clicks to decide what music, videos, and more will become hits…


Just last month, Denny’s turned a viral video of a father and son’s heartwarming but nonsensical conversation into an advertisement that went viral in turn, clocking 11.7 million views on Facebook and 1.6 million on Twitter, per PR Week. With little paid support behind the spot, Denny’s wasn’t exactly taking a risk—they already knew that the father-son duo was beloved by the over 60 million people that watched the original Facebook clip alone. Who needs an AB test when the content already conquered the ever-fickle algorithms of social media—where only the most-engaged-with content becomes a part of pop culture?

Borrowing viral content has become a tried and true marketing tactic, with brands integrating popular online trends into ads for some time—but now popular videos and memes are being transformed into far more than commercials. Memes, lip-syncing clips, and more are going so viral that they’re growing legs and walking right off the internet and into mainstream media—where they’re topping charts, breaking records, and being adapted into everything from live shows to TV series. And considering that most Gen Z & Millennials consume content on their favorite social media platforms daily, per our Social Media Monitor, it makes sense that the content that survives the social media testing grounds is being tapped by entertainment brands to capitalize on a craze. Recently, Deadline reports that ParamountPlayers and even teamed up to turn the unboxing YouTube trend into a major motion picture. Here are four other pieces of recent viral content that started as hopeful uploads and are now dominating mainstream media:

1. “Baby Shark” Splashes Onto The Small Screen & The Stage

Nickelodeon is bringing Baby Shark to the small screen in a new animated series, according to Deadline. The video known for its earworm chorus (Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo!) has gone viral to the tune of more than three billion YouTube views, becoming one of the platform’s most-viewed pieces of content of all time. It makes sense that Nickelodeon wants to turn it into a full series: they’ve been turning to YouTube for more content lately, including a show that features unboxing star Ryan ToysReview. But Baby Shark isn’t just swimming to the small screen. Billboard reports the whole aquatic family will be splashing onto stages in 30 U.S. cities this fall.





2. Lil Nas X’s TikTok Hit Dominates The Billboard Hot 100

Lil Nas X had about 3,000 Soundcloud followers when NiceMichael turned his song into a TikTok clip (with the artist’s permission). After that, the video went viral, “Old Town Road” became a record-breaking, genre-bending hit, and Lil Nas X landed a major record deal along with a controversial Wrangler collab, according to Rolling Stone. Now, Uproxx reports the hit song has surpassed “Macarena” to become the longest-running debut single to ever sit at number one on the Billboard Hot 100—even though the publication originally refused to identify the song as “country.”





3. YouTube Kids Stars Break Onto Streaming Platforms

Famous kids’ YouTube videos are getting a second life on streaming services. Tubefilter reports that is repackaging the best clips from Ryan ToysReview, HobbyKidsTV, EvanTubeHD, JillianTubeHD, and CaptainSparklez as half-hour shows called Mishmashes that will be distributed on Hulu and Amazon. The company, which is rooted on YouTube, is making further pushes into streaming with original content, including two shows for Hulu and Amazon, and Skoogle, a sitcom that will air on Nickelodeon. An exec at the company tells The Wrap that, “premium streaming services and television networks around the world are beginning to understand that in order to succeed with kids today, they need to embrace these new stars and formats.”




4. Blueface Becomes Much More Than a Meme

Blueface is becoming more than the viral meme that launched his rap career, reports the New York Times. His hit song “Thotiana” took over social media and broke into the Billboard Top Ten, but critics were quick to debate whether he paid his dues in the rap world. But he’s not afraid to admit that “Getting to this point probably took about 25 percent music” and that Blueface is a role he plays, complete with signature dance moves. A sequel to “Thotiana” is in the works as the rapper looks to hang onto his mainstream status. While many put down his almost ahead-of-the-beat rapping style, some critics are taking him seriously and even calling him “ahead of his time,” per the Washington Post.